The UMBC men's basketball team are honored at the Government House and afterward at Maryland’s House and Senate floors. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun video)
UMBC men’s basketball coach Ryan Odom has agreed to a new contract, the school announced Monday, ensuring that the architect of the NCAA tournament’s greatest upset will remain in Catonsville for at least another season.
The new deal, terms of which were not disclosed, comes more than a week after the Retrievers stunned No. 1 overall seed Virginia in the first round of the Big Dance, becoming the first men’s No. 16 seed to win against a top seed since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
In Odom’s second year, UMBC set a single-season program record for wins (25) and won the America East Conference for the first time in a decade. Odom is 70-46 overall since arriving in Maryland after a year at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne.
“I am so proud of our staff and players and it’s been a remarkable journey that we set out on together,” Odom said in a news release. “I am grateful to [UMBC President] Dr. [Freeman] Hrabowski and [athletic director] Tim Hall for their confidence in our staff to continue to lead these young men during their time at UMBC. It’s a great honor to be a part of the UMBC community.”
The Retrievers were honored Monday night in Annapolis during a reception hosted by Gov. Larry Hogan and a visit to the Maryland State House’s Senate and House chambers. The team also will be celebrated on campus Tuesday night at the UMBC Event Center.
Hall said Odom’s contract reflects a commitment to the program that rivals that of any in the top third of the America East.
“We’re going to have a dog in the hunt,” Hall said. “I think it also positions us well for what I would call the upper-mid-majors in Division I basketball. The commitment of the institution and what they’re doing to help us is, I think, going to put us in a really good position.”
Hall expressed confidence last week that Odom and the school would come to an agreement on a new deal. Odom’s previous contract paid him an annual salary of $225,000, with an additional $17,500 earned for the team’s tournament berth and first-round win.
“My sense was that we were going to be able to” reach a deal, Hall said Monday. “He’s the right fit for our type of institution and really espouses the values of UMBC and sees himself as a teacher and an educator and a molder of young men. And this is the right place for him to be right now to continue building on what he started.”
Added Hrabowski: "We are very proud of Coach Odom and our basketball team. Ryan is an amazing educator and fine human being. He appreciates the important relationship between our athletic and academic programs."
The Retrievers will lose their top two players from this year’s team, guards Jairus Lyles and K.J. Maura, but return starters Joe Sherburne, Arkel Lamar and Daniel Akin. The team also will play its first full season in the UMBC Event Center, which opened in early February.
So while trips to the NCAA tournament (or the Maryland governor’s official residence) might not become a March fixture in the seasons to come, Odom was happy to say he’d be the one to oversee that goal.
“We’re going to do our best, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s a new season. The life of this team is now over, so now the work begins here in the offseason to try to get ready for the right to return. That’s a tall order since it’s not an easy thing to do to make the dance in general. … You have to play really, really well to make that happen.”